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Saying thank you in a tangible way

The best things in life aren’t free.

At least some of them aren’t.

At least not to everyone.

Case in point: Cyndi’s List.

This amazing resource and research tool has been available to the genealogical community for 20 years now. It’s celebrating its 20th anniversary this summer.

And, for all of us who have used it and continue to use it as a means to quickly and easily find what we’re looking for genealogically, it’s always been free.

The one person for whom it hasn’t been free: the amazing person behind that amazing resource.


Cyndi Ingle is a real person, a one-woman dynamo who started Cyndi’s List as her own personal set of genealogical bookmarks that summer 20 years ago. She describes its origins this way:

I joined the local genealogical group, the Tacoma-Pierce County Genealogical Society, … During the summer months the TPCGS group doesn’t hold monthly meetings. In September we get back together and do a show-and-tell of what we did over the summer. I remember that meeting in 1995 very well. Nan came and brought a quilt she had made over the summer. The squares had old family portraits and photos that she had printed and ironed onto the fabric. Others told about genealogical vacations they had taken, visiting courthouses and cemeteries and all their discoveries. I had decided to share my list of bookmarks. I had printed it out on one whole page. I wasn’t sure if anyone would care about this Internet thing. Computer owners were in the minority at the time and even they weren’t all online. I made ten copies of my bookmark list in case anyone else was interested. They were. In fact, they were all so interested in it that I had to run upstairs to make more copies. That’s when Cyndi’s List was born.1

And, she adds, “It is hard to imagine that two decades have passed and Cyndi’s List is still growing and evolving and is still incredibly useful to millions of people worldwide. And it is still free for everyone to use.”2

That’s amazing. But — if you know Cyndi — it’s not surprising.

She is funny. She is smart. She is a good researcher. She is a great mom. She is a good friend.

And her work is wonderful, to see and to use.

You can browse the categories at Cyndi’s List, ranging from Acadian, Cajun & Creole (updated 31 May 2015) to Writing Your Family’s History (updated 21 June 2015).

In between, so much to choose from: Calendars & Dates; Myths, Hoaxes & Scams; Recipes, Cookbooks & Family Traditions; even Death Records and Taxes.

If you can think of it related to genealogy, you can find it on Cyndi’s List.

And, today, as from the start, absolutely free to use.

But it sure hasn’t been free for Cyndi.

We can start with her own comment that: “There has been a lot of blood, sweat, and tears that I’ve put into the site.”3 Yeah, 20 years worth of hard work surely qualifies as that, doesn’t it?

And then there was the redesign.

In 2011, Cyndi’s List needed a major upgrade and redesign to continue to be as useful into the future as it has been in the past.

And redesigns don’t come cheap.

Cyndi picked up the tab out of her own pocket.

To the tune of some $40,000 plus.

At which point Cyndi finally did what so many of us in the genealogical community had been telling her she had to do: she had to let people help. “When I upgraded the site I added a PayPal Donation button,” she says. “It was one of the hardest things for me to do. I do not like to ask for help. My friends and colleagues tell me that I need to do this.”4

Yes, Cyndi. You do need to do this.

And since there’s still a ton of money outstanding in expenses on Cyndi’s List, all of us who use this amazing resource need to use that PayPal Donation button and say thanks in a tangible way.

I clicked on that button this morning and donated $100.

It’s hardly enough for all the value I’ve received from Cyndi’s List over the years, and all the value I expect to continue to receive into the future.

Come join me, please, in saying thank you in a tangible way to Cyndi’s List.

Click on that PayPal Donation button.

Do it today.


  1. Cyndi Ingle, “It All Began 20 Years Ago…,” Cyndi’s List blog, posted 21 June 2015 ( : accessed 22 June 2015).
  2. Ibid.
  3. Ibid.
  4. Ibid.
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